I often ask people – whether in interviews for this site or in general conversation with whisky lovers – what their most memorable whisky drinking moment was. The stories I’ve heard range from someone spotting dolphins while enjoying a dram on Islay, to another woman relishing in a Bowmore 1964 on the night of her engagement and drams shared with now long-gone friends. Whisky often tends to be brought out at special occasions and, therefore, is cemented as a part of those memories.
For me, I’ve been lucky enough to try whisky in so many different places and at different times that it can be hard to find any one memory to stand out. But as I gather them and store them away for a rainy, sad day when I need to be cheered up thinking about something nice, every once in a while one seems ripe for sharing.
The latest one that stands out came about as I was at a music festival. Now, I’m not one of those super trendy, down with the kids kind of music loving people. I love all kinds of music, from classic to jazz, pop and blues, but have absolutely no ability to recall the names of bands or songs. I was once asked to name five Beatles songs; even though I could probably sing along to almost any that would come on the radio, I simply couldn’t get the song titles to appear in my head. Anyway, the point is: while music is always part of my life, I don’t take time out to go to concerts, know that latest bands or make it to festivals. So, when one of my girlfriends suggested we go along to Field Day in London’s Victoria Park recently I thought: why not…maybe I’ll learn something.
It was a gloriously hot start-of-summer’s day and all the trendy Shoreditch kids were wearing lord knows what kind of too-cool-for-school clothing. I don’t remember much about the bands we saw that afternoon but many of the horrendous outfits (when did anyone think dungarees were cool again and why?) are burned into my memory.
Now, knowing the drinks would be extremely overpriced (£5 for a can of Red Stripe anyone?) there is a very good chance that I…ahem…may have potentially hidden a couple of emergency drams down my top when we came in. I justified this with the fact that while the transport mode might not have been classy, at least the product I was bringing in was.
Once through the security gates, I did a wee reshuffle, moving them to my shoulder bag for consumption later on and got on with spending too much money on beer for the afternoon (don’t worry; I didn’t succumb to the Red Stripe con…I found the craft beer tent).
Six hours later, after too much sun, dancing and not enough water, I found myself rather cheerily pushing my way through the crowd along with Ms Nathalie to make our way closer to the stage for the final band: Metronomy (ooo…I remembered one!). And that’s when I remembered what I’d smuggled in. One was Bowmore 15 (pictured) and the other: The Glenlivet Nadurra Oloroso.
As the sun set and the sky eased into blue lagoon tones, the band came on, the crowd went wild and I opened up my dram. The band was great, the crowd was friendly (much dancing with strangers ensued) and I even got the non-whisky-drinking-but-hopefully-soon-to-be-converted Ms Nathalie to have a few wee sips and actually enjoy it.
I didn’t take notes that night, but the whisky went down as easily as the tunes did. It was pure relaxation and having a wonderful dram to end off the evening made it all the more special.
Since that evening, I’ve had the chance to re-try this particular release, which has been bottled at 48% and comes from whisky matured (as a rarity for this brand) in first fill, ex-Oloroso Sherry casks. It’s a travel retail release but is well worth seeking out if you’re heading through the airport anytime soon.
Here’s what my non-music-festival-affected nose and palate found in this latest release from The Glenlivet…
(c): Browned butter
(n): Brown sugar and butter creaminess backed by a strong, punchy bite. Nice acidic fruit too: lots of orange peel, some cinnamon and vanilla, boozy raisins. With water, softens and becomes more pillowy and gentle; very attractive like this and more of the sweetness comes out.
(p): Loads of golden raisins and brown sugar. A ice kick at the back of the palate from the higher ABV. Good dashes of orange pith bitterness along with cinnamon sticks (dry and spicy). With water: more liquorice/treacle notes come out.
(f): Spiced oranges.
In conclusion: a classic example of European oak, sherry cask influence but with lots of punch and spiciness. More of a powerhouse than I remember from that night at the festival but very drinkable.